Monday, April 4, 2011

Running Clubs,pt.2,Starting One

If you can't find a club that's right for you then maybe it's time to start one. Something to remember is that forming a club is actually quite simple,it only becomes complicated if you allow it to. So where do you begin? Obviously, you need to begin with a core of runners,athletes who have a view of running that is in many ways similar to yours. Haven't we found that over the years runners tend to gravitate towards other runners they can relate with? An example of this would be when the Stotans first got started we would do our weekly runs on the trails at a local park,we'd always see other runners week after week running and training there. From our contact with these runners several asked about joining and eventually became members. One thing I recognized early on was that I wanted a club that was heavy on the running and light on the organization,bureaucracy and rules. Rigidness and structure were something that I got enough of at my job. I mean, part of the beauty of running is that it offers an escape from such things.Let's look at a few issues that need to be addressed at the outset of starting a club,things that are important to be determined in order to avoid potential problems in the future. 1.Establish a definite membership policy for your club. Set a clear,agreed upon policy of membership,one that new members are aware of when they join and one that they agree with.I've known guys who have quit clubs because a friend was not invited to join.Establishing a criteria for membership could eliminate potential conflicts. 2.Pick a designated leader for your club,preferably someone with as small an ego as possible. The best kind is your stereotypical long distance runner,soft-spoken yet assured and confident,respectful of others.Having many years of running under his belt is also a plus. 3.Determine the necessity,or lack thereof,of having membership fees. They say money issues are the #1 destroyer of marriages,it would be safe to say the same is true of running clubs.Money tends to sooner or later bring out the worst in people. Personally speaking,a pay as you go policy is best. Need singlets?--pool your money. Need beer for meetings?---bring some. The key is in keeping your club natural and simple,a pre-occupation with money and non-running matters can suck the life out of it. 4.Perhaps I'm a little biased but I'd also recommend having some kind of newsletter for your club.I believe this not only informs but unites the members. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate,something as simple as a handwritten page or two is sufficient. Announcements,running news,events and tips can comprise a basic newsletter. It should come out at least once a month. I close with this,if you have found a running club that suits you,you are a lucky man(or woman). I have, and it's made me a better runner for now several decades; it's encouraged me, got me to train when I sometimes didn't feel like it and it's led me to race various distances in different locales that I wouldn't have tried otherwise. Perhaps the best thing is that I have developed friendships that will last a lifetime.

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